Students at Notre Dame will be offered two classes utilizing iPads in lieu of textbooks
Part of the reason for that is that not every form factor is ideal for educational institutions. iPads have appeal for their slim form factors, reliable operating system and ease of use. However, Windows is ubiquitous and Android tablets or even Chrome notebooks are far less expensive. Moreover, many text materials are not actually available in soft-copy format, or those that are available, are often used in tandem with a paper-bound text book anyway.
Where those materials are available there are still practical challenges. A lot of students like to tag, mark, and write notes in their texts, something that is not immediately doable with some equipment, like the iPad. A Penabled Windows tablet, or Samsung Galaxy Note tablet could accommodate that, but then the texts would need to work within other applications. Make no mistake, those days are coming as all the major manufacturers and developers make huge pushes into the higher-education sector.
The University of Notre Dame is offering two classes whose entire class content will be accessed via Apple’s iPad under a new pilot program. The two classes, Introduction to the First Amendment: Freedom of Expression in the Digital Age and Introduction to Web-Based Interactivity, and Data Driven Design (rather apropos) will utilize course materials via a custom built iBook, and students will use the iPads for out of class activities and collaboration using Google Drive, Google Apps and Google Plus.
While the course materials are free, the iPads are not, students will lease the hardware. The lease costs were not noted, nor was it noted if the students get to keep the freely provided materials. Depending on how that works out, it may cause some student resistance down the road, since students usually buy their text books and thus have the option to keep them (although selling them is more common). Leasing takes some of that value away, and also provides no ability for students on a tight-budget to recover some of those costs by selling used textbooks.
sources: University of Notre Dame via DVICE